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Last Letters of Second Lieutenant Kantarō Tomoe to His Parents and Younger Brothers

On April 6, 1945, Second Lieutenant Kantarō Tomoe took off from Miyakonojō West Airfield and died in a special (suicide) attack west of Okinawa at the age of 23. He was a member of the 1st Special Shinbu Squadron. He piloted an Army Hayate Type 4 Fighter (Allied code name of Frank). After his death in a special attack, he received a promotion to Captain. He was from Fukuoka Prefecture, graduated from Nihon University in Tōkyō, and was a member of the 9th Class of the Army's Officer Cadet (Kanbu Kōhosei) training program.

On April 5, 1945, he wrote the following final letters to his parents, four younger brothers, and sister-in-law:

Dear Parents,

Tomorrow morning I will depart as a Special Attack Corps member. It is a young man's honor. I will seek an aircraft carrier and make a hissatsu (certain-death) attack. I am glad to find out by letter about Mother's health condition. Please take good care of yourself.

Today I found out about tomorrow's departure, and I had to rush around with various preparations. The final letter also has such messy writing. I regret it to the point of blushing. When I think about it, I caused you many worries. Please forgive my lack of filial piety. Things from the distant past come and go, but my state of mind is clear and serene. Please use my remaining items. Please send the original sword belt in the Boston bag to Hidemoto's place. Asking you to do this was delayed until today. With no time I was not able to send letters to all of the relatives, so please give them my regards. As for the matter of my younger brothers and sister-in-law, please finish up admirably their upbringing. Until the end I am a cheerful person with foolish talk. I only desire to hit the target. I pray for your happiness.

Father, do not collapse from overwork.

Mother, I hope you can become healthy quickly.

I am going.

To Younger Brother Hidemoto,

There is no excuse for my not being in touch with you for a long time. There is nothing that surpasses the honor of a special attack. Since I will send my remaining items to you, receive them at your house and use what you need. My state of mind is like the sky. Fulfill your obligation by joining a military unit. I request your family members to take care of things. I pray for your success.

To Teruko

I apologize for not writing for a long time until now.

Since I will depart for a special attack, I am determined to find big game. Truly your older bother was me. I will not stop praying for your happiness. Please do not lose your femininity. I ask that you handle things concerning Mother. I request also that you give guidance to my younger brothers. Please finish their upbringing to be fine Japanese persons. Since it is one day before the order, even my last letter is as such. My luggage is an officer's wicker trunk and a Boston bag. Since they will be delivered soon, please use any needed items.

I am very busy with arranging my affairs, planning, and preparing my aircraft and other things. Please forgive my messy writing.

Do not forget your femininity. I pray for your happiness.

To Younger Brother Kisaburō

Ki [1], I wanted to see you to try to talk about various things, but now it has come about that I will not be able. I have no regrets about becoming a Special Attack Corps member, and I actually have a serene feeling. This is being a Japanese person. Kisaburō, you also already are an adult. I ask that you take care of all of the family matters. You must advance to my proper place. Even in the proper place, do it with sincerity. As for guidance for our younger brothers, I request you to provide it since you are the best at it. I will instantly sink a ship since I will crash dive with a Type 4 Fighter. Please take care of yourself in everything and work to resolve the country's crisis. I leave it to your judgment.

To Younger Brothers Yasushi and Takao

Yasushi and Takao, tomorrow morning I will go to Okinawa to sink an enemy aircraft carrier. Please be friends, study, and become fine persons. You two together take care of yourselves, be full of spirit, and show filial piety to our parents. Yasushi, work for the time being. Takao, study.

Please stay in high spirits.

Letters translated by Bill Gordon
August 2018

The letters come from Terai (1977, 5, 7-8). The biographical information in the first paragraph comes from Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (2005, 207), Osuo (2005, 207), and Terai (1977, 5).


1. Ki is a nickname for Kisaburō.

Sources Cited

Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai (Chiran Special Attack Memorial Society), ed. 2005. Konpaku no kiroku: Kyū rikugun tokubetsu kōgekitai chiran kichi (Record of departed spirits: Former Army Special Attack Corps Chiran Base). Revised edition, originally published in 2004. Chiran Town, Kagoshima Prefecture: Chiran Tokkō Irei Kenshō Kai.

Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (rikugun hen) (Record of special attack corps (Army)). Tōkyō: Kōjinsha.

Terai, Shun'ichi, ed. 1977. Kōkū Kichi Miyakonojō Hayate Tokkō Shinbutai (Miyakonojō Air Base Hayate Special Attack Shinbu Unit). Tōkyō: Genshobō.